Up Front by Emma Hart


Eat Up Your Brothelly

Watching This is Not My Life, two things have made quite the impression on me. Firstly, we really need to do something about painting our bedroom. Before, that shade of blue was just leaving me cold. Now it's the same shade as Wellness, and it's giving me the creeps. Secondly, the presence of male performers and female customers in the strip club made me whoop with delight. After all, if Waimoana is a deeply dodgy place set up for the fantasy delights of a rich few (speculation, of course) it surely stands to reason that a few of the women had more adventurous desires than Callie's.

Now, that doesn't mean that I'm saying male prostitution, or sexual services for women, are necessarily a good thing. What I appreciate is breaking down the tired conventional restrictive stereotypes about female desire. We don't really want sex, you see. We want wine and cuddles and slippers by an open fire. We want someone to listen to and support us. And if we have to give sex to men to get that, we're prepared to make the trade. So it's refreshing to see women portrayed as having blood that is red and gets hot, just like men.

According to Eleanor Black on Pundit, however, I am completely wrong about that. The mere idea of sexual services for women isn't just disgusting and degrading, it's completely unnecessary. You see:

I think most women's dream date is more about romantic gestures and extravagant surprises. An emotional connection with someone, not a business transaction. I think some of the would-be clients might feel demeaned when it came time to hand over their credit cards.

See, going to a brothel would be a "dream date". Just like it is for men. And our dream date is walks on the beach and hot air balloons and rings concealed in elaborate desserts. That's what we want. Not sex. That would be crass.

Now I'm not saying a bit of romance isn't appreciated by most women. The nausea induced by just writing that last paragraph just makes me atypical. Not "most women". Not a real woman. But the key to our sexuality?

Research into female desire suggests this is, indeed, bullshit. As difficult as it might be to hear (and apologies for the occasional bursts of evolutionary psychology in that article), Marta Meana, a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, is pretty clear:

The problem was how to augment desire, and despite prevailing wisdom, the answer, she told me, had “little to do with building better relationships,” with fostering communication between patients and their partners. She rolled her eyes at such niceties…

“Female desire,” Meana said... “is not governed by the relational factors that, we like to think, rule women’s sexuality as opposed to men’s.”

For evolutionary and cultural reasons, she said, women might set a high value on the closeness and longevity of relationships: “But it’s wrong to think that because relationships are what women choose they’re the primary source of women’s desire.”

Of course, if it turns out that no women want to visit a brothel for women, Pammy's will go out of business, and we'll know. Because this has never been done before, right? Men wouldn't want to work there, and women wouldn't want to use them.

And it's true that Heidi Fleiss gave it a go in 2005 and couldn't make it work. But there is a mixed-gender brothel operating in Nevada. Bobbi Davis seemingly had no trouble attracting male sex workers, and is still hiring, which suggests there's custom for them. Ms. Naughty has an excerpt from an interview with one of the sex workers, as well as comments about an interview she did with an Australian straight male prostitute, several years ago.

So it's not exactly as new and disturbing an idea as Black makes it out to be. Though to be fair she also finds the idea of spa pools in brothels new and disturbing, so this may not be an area of expertise. Unlike female sexuality and alcoholism. (Here's a tip for new players: if you feel you have to use the phrase "I'm not judging", maybe you're judging.)

And as another note, sex workers do not sell their souls. (Frankly if souls were actually a saleable commodity they'd have to get in the cue behind me to get cash money for something I have never used.) To quote my favourite sex worker:

am I the only one who finds it mildly ironic that so many people seem to equate genitalia to the physical and spiritual representation for the sole source and whole worth of a human?

Sorry. We were talking about them, not to them, right?

Having read the Listener article, I will answer the possibly-obvious question. Yes, Pammy's sounds like somewhere I might like to visit, if I were single, with a bunch of female friends. (The appeal of mixed-gender/sexuality brothels would be being able to go with ALL my friends.) Have a few drinks, play, satisfy some fairly prurient curiosity. Possibly more. Which apparently would make me "base and revolting". Whatever. Those judgypants sure do seem like a comfy fit.

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

(Click here to find out more)

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